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Archive for the ‘genetics’ category: Page 4

Sep 13, 2022

Researchers learn more about interactions in the cortex

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, robotics/AI

To an untrained observer, the electrical storm that takes place over the brain’s neural network seems a chaotic flurry of activity. But as neuroscientists understand it, the millions of neurons are actually engaged in a sort of tightly choreographed dance, a tango of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. How is this precise balance that makes normal function possible achieved during development? And how does it go wrong in diseases like epilepsy when brain activity goes out of control?

Focusing on the cerebral cortex, the part of the controlling thought, sensory awareness, and motor function, a group of Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB), led by Assistant Professor Paola Arlotta, has discovered that excitatory neurons control the positioning of inhibitory neurons in a process that is critically important for generating balanced circuitry and proper cortical response.

Professor Takao Hensch, a collaborator on the study in the Harvard Center for Brain Science, Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology (MCB), had previously shown that the maturation of this circuit balance triggers critical periods of brain development. Certain inhibitory cells appear particularly vulnerable to genetic or environmental factors in early life, contributing to mental illness, such as schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorders.

Sep 13, 2022

Daily briefing: Mutation might have given us a cognitive advantage over Neanderthals

Posted by in categories: genetics, space

A brain-building genetic mutation might have helped give us an intellectual leg up on other hominins. Plus, why NASA’s Artemis Moon launch is delayed and all about an affirmative-action strategy to boost female faculty numbers.

Sep 13, 2022

Blood Type Linked to Risk of Stroke Before Age 60

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

According to a new meta-analysis, gene variants associated with a person’s blood type may be linked to their risk of early stroke.

“Non-O blood types have previously been linked to a risk of early stroke, but the findings of our meta-analysis showed a stronger link between these blood types with early stroke compared to late stroke, and in linking risk mostly to blood type A,” said study author Braxton D. Mitchell, PhD, MPH, of University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. “Specifically, our meta-analysis suggests that gene variants tied to blood types A and O represent nearly all of those genetically linked with early stroke. People with these gene variants may be more likely to develop blood clots, which can lead to stroke.”

48 studies on genetics and ischemic stroke from North America, Europe, and Asia were reviewed in the meta-analysis. 16,927 people with stroke and 576,353 people who did not have a stroke were included in the studies. Of those with stroke, 5,825 people had early onset stroke and 9,269 people had late onset stroke. Early onset stroke was defined as an ischemic stroke occurring before age 60 and late-onset stroke was older than 60 years old.

Sep 12, 2022

Groundbreaking Alzheimer’s Case: Gene APOE3

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

An alzheimer’s-proof brain: a groundbreaking case.


In a groundbreaking case researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered a gene variant that seems to have disrupted the pathology of Tau Protein. The case of Aliria Rosa Piedrahita de Villegas.

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Sep 12, 2022

Artificial pieces of brain use light to communicate with real neurons

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, genetics, health, robotics/AI

Researchers have created a way for artificial neuronal networks to communicate with biological neuronal networks. The new system converts artificial electrical spiking signals to a visual pattern than is then used to entrain the real neurons via optogenetic stimulation of the network. This advance will be important for future neuroprosthetic devices that replace damages neurons with artificial neuronal circuitry.

A prosthesis is an artificial device that replaces an injured or missing part of the body. You can easily imagine a stereotypical pirate with a wooden leg or Luke Skywalker’s famous robotic hand. Less dramatically, think of old-school prosthetics like glasses and contact lenses that replace the natural lenses in our eyes. Now try to imagine a prosthesis that replaces part of a damaged brain. What could artificial brain matter be like? How would it even work?

Creating neuroprosthetic technology is the goal of an international team led by by the Ikerbasque Researcher Paolo Bonifazi from Biocruces Health Research Institute (Bilbao, Spain), and Timothée Levi from Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo and from IMS lab, University of Bordeaux. Although several types of artificial neurons have been developed, none have been truly practical for neuroprostheses. One of the biggest problems is that neurons in the brain communicate very precisely, but electrical output from the typical electrical neural network is unable to target specific neurons. To overcome this problem, the team converted the electrical signals to light. As Levi explains, “advances in optogenetic technology allowed us to precisely target neurons in a very small area of our biological neuronal network.”

Sep 11, 2022

Schizophrenia May Be the Price We Pay for a Big Brain

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

Circa 2015 face_with_colon_three


The disease is linked to genetic changes on the evolutionary road from ape to human.

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Sep 11, 2022

Deinococcus radiodurans — the consummate survivor

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, genetics

Circa 2005 Bacteria that is resistant to radiation could lead to better radiation resistance in humans.


Relatively little is known about the biochemical basis of the capacity of Deinococcus radiodurans to endure the genetic insult that results from exposure to ionizing radiation and can include hundreds of DNA double-strand breaks. However, recent reports indicate that this species compensates for extensive DNA damage through adaptations that allow cells to avoid the potentially detrimental effects of DNA strand breaks. It seems that D. radiodurans uses mechanisms that limit DNA degradation and that restrict the diffusion of DNA fragments that are produced following irradiation, to preserve genetic integrity. These mechanisms also increase the efficiency of the DNA-repair proteins.

Sep 11, 2022

Scientists Are Working on a Gene-Hacking Drug That Could Treat Baldness

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Using gene modification techniques, a team of researchers have come up with a new treatment for balding, Wired reports — a condition experienced to varying degrees by two-thirds of American men by age 35.

The team, associated with the University of California, Irvine and a biotech company called Amplifica, believes they’ve identified the signaling pathway that drive hair growth to find new ways to stop stem cells from giving up on producing hair follicles.

Experiments with mice, as detailed in a new paper published in the journal Developmental Cell last month, have been promising. The mice were genetically modified to have the hair growth signaling pathway turned on permanently.

Sep 11, 2022

DHEA-S Is A Weakness In My Data: Blood Test #5 in 2022

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

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Sep 10, 2022

Scientists Solve Century-Old Supergene Mystery

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Researchers have solved the century-old mystery of a supergene that causes efficient cross-pollination in flowers. The results reveal that sequence length variation at the DNA

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is a molecule composed of two long strands of nucleotides that coil around each other to form a double helix. It is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms that carries genetic instructions for development, functioning, growth, and reproduction. Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA).

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